ENTRY: MacDonald, George
George MacDonald (b. December 10, 1824 – d. September 18, 1905) was a Scottish fantasy author,
poet, and Christian minister.
His works, particularly his
fairy tales and fantasy novels, inspired deep admiration in such notables as the poet W.H. Auden,
and J.R.R. Tolkien. C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master".
Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day in a train station, he began to read;
"a few hours later," said Lewis, "I knew I had crossed a great frontier."
G.K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had
"made a difference to my whole existence".
MacDonald was born on December 10, 1824 at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
His father, a farmer, was one of the MacDonalds of Glen Coe. The Doric dialect
of the area frequently appears in the dialogue of some of his non-fantasy novels.
MacDonald grew up influenced by his Congregational Church, with an atmosphere
He took his degree at the University of Aberdeen, and then moved to London, studying at
Highbury College for the Congregational ministry. He was began his ministerial work in Arundel and Manchester. He left
Manchester because of poor health, and after a short sojourn in Algiers
he settled in London and taught for some time at the University of
London. MacDonald was also for a time editor of Good Words for the Young, and
lectured successfully in the United States during 1872-1873.
His best-known works are Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the
North Wind, and Lilith, all fantasy novels, and fairy tales such as — "The Light Princess",
"The Golden Key", and "The Wise Woman". "I write, not for children," he wrote,
"but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five."
MacDonald also served as a mentor to Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson);
it was MacDonald's advice, and the enthusiastic reception of Alice by MacDonald's three young
daughters that convinced Carroll to submit Alice for publication. Carroll, one of
the finest Victorian photographers, also created photographic portraits of the girls and their brother Greville.
MacDonald was also friends with John Ruskin (who, among his many other towering acheivements, was author of the fantasy
novel The King of The Golden River), and served as a go-between in Ruskin's long courtship with Rose la Touche.
MacDonald was acquainted with most of the literary luminaries of the day; a surviving group
photograph shows him with Tennyson, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Trollope, Ruskin, Lewes, and
Thackeray. While in America he was a friend of Longfellow and Walt Whitman.
In 1877 he was given a civil list pension. He died on September 18, 1905 in Ashstead
(Surrey). He was cremated and buried in Bordighera.
His son Greville MacDonald became a noted medical specialist, and also wrote numerous
novels for children. Greville ensured that new editions of his father's works were published.
Selected list of works:
The Golden Key (1867)
At the Back of the North Wind (1871)
The Princess and the Goblin (1872)
Made in Staffordshire, England. © 2007.
Last updated: 18th Jan 2007. Site search by PicoSearch.|
Some of the initial E-BNR text was sourced or partly derived from Wikipedia, used here under the GNU licence.